Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Rudy Tokiwa Interview II
Narrator: Rudy Tokiwa
Interviewers: Tom Ikeda (primary), Judy Niizawa (secondary)
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date: July 2 & 3, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-trudy-02-0025

<Begin Segment 25>

TI: Well, what was Camp Shelby like by the time you got there? So it was up and running, things were moving pretty well at that point.

RT: Yeah, yeah. There was, but even right at the start, see, the problem we were having between the mainland guys and the Hawaii guys, was, you know, the Hawaiians spoke pidgin English, and the guys from the stateside, we all spoke regular English. And we, half the time, nobody recognized what they were saying. And it was hard. Well, it's like I say, I have, I was, when I went to Japan and I got off the boat in Hawaii, they spoke pidgin English. And I listened to it and listened to it. And I finally got the little hang of what pidgin English was all about. So then when we were coming back and we stopped, docked in Hawaii, I really listened to 'em, 'cause that's educational. And so I really listened to 'em good. And I sort of started to break down the way pidgin English went. Then we had to get on the boat and we came back, see.

And I knew that some of the guys in Hawaii were arrogant. When you come back from Japan, you got, you don't wear clothes like we wear now. When you come from Japan, you got the uniform on, the school clothes, 'cause that's all you buy. And when I was in Honolulu, and I was walkin' down the street, and these Hawaiians are havin' a ball, "Here comes a general. Watch that general. Hey, you better say banzai to the general." [Laughs] And all this went on. And so I knew, I understood that they were a little on the arrogant side. I've, all I know is, when one of 'em had said, "Look, there's that -- " I don't mind them saying, "There comes a general." [Laughs] But when he said, "There's that Jap general." Well, that sort of peeved me. And I turned around, and I said, "Any time you wanna go at it, Mac, let's go." And he turns around, and he tells all his buddies, "Hey, you see da bugga. He like beat us up." Then I knew that it wasn't gonna be just me against them. I figured well, I better get the hell outta here before they throw me in jail. So I sort of had the Hawaiians figured out. They don't mean anything by it, but they are a little bit that way.

TI: So how was it when you went to Camp Shelby and you met them? How, how did they treat you?

RT: Well, so when I went to Camp Shelby, and this corporal took me and he says, "That's your bunk bed there." And, "Oh sure, that's fine, but gee, I got four footlockers on there." So I asked, first I asked this corporal, "What about these boxes sittin' on my -- " I didn't know what were footlockers yet. And I said, "What about these boxes sittin' here?" "Oh, it must be somebody's footlocker in here." He says, "Have 'em move it." So I turned around, I said, there was some guys on the end over there. I went in on a Sunday, so they were in the barracks, nobody doin' anything. They were playing cards. And I said, "Do these boxes belong to anybody?" And then it came out, "Hey, hear da kine bugga, yeah? He try and make us haul da boxes kine, yeah?" And so I said, "Well, this is my bunk, and I gotta make my bed. If nobody wants to move the boxes, I guess I'll have to move 'em for you." And then, "Da kine tough bugga, yeah?" So when he said that, I got peeved. And I picked one of 'em up, and I threw (the locker) out the door. And so they looked at me. And I said, "Look, you wanna have it out? One of you each at a time. I don't give a damn. I think I can whip your butts. I whip Americans, 'cause I don't like to be pushed." So finally, one of 'em says, "Hey, the bugga right there, yeah?" So they came and moved all the boxes. [Laughs] So actually, I got along good with the Hawaiians.

TI: Because after this incident...

RT: Yeah.

TI: They sort of respected you?

RT: Yeah. They respected me, and I respected them. We became good friends.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.